New Brunswick

Dennis Oland's new murder trial date could be set today

A date for Dennis Oland's new second-degree murder trial in the 2011 bludgeoning death of his father, multimillionaire Richard Oland, could be set this morning in Saint John's Court of Queen's Bench.

Scheduling was adjourned last month as parties waited for Court of Appeal's written ruling quashing conviction

Dennis Oland, who served 10 months in prison, has been free on bail since Oct. 25, pending his new trial. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

Dennis Oland could find out today when — or if — he will face a new second-degree murder trial in the 2011 bludgeoning death of his father, New Brunswick multimillionaire Richard Oland.

If a new trial does proceed, it may not be held until January 2018.

It's unclear whether Dennis Oland, 48, who is free on bail, will attend today's proceedings at the Court of Queen's Bench in Saint John.

He did not attend court last month when a date was expected to be set. The matter ended up being adjourned until today at 11 a.m. at the request of his defence lawyers.

Both parties were still waiting at that time for the detailed written reasons of the New Brunswick Court of Appeal's Oct. 24 decision to quash Oland's conviction and order a new trial based on a "fundamental flaw" in the trial judge's instructions to the jury, before deciding on their next steps.

The Court of Appeal has indicated it will release the written decision on Jan. 12. 

Crown prosecutor Bill Richards, of the attorney general's special prosecutions branch, had told the court, he expected "things [would] become much more clear in January," referring to whether either party will seek leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.

​The Crown could ask the country's highest court to reinstate Oland's conviction, while the defence could request an acquittal instead of a retrial.

Richard Oland, 69, was found dead in his Saint John office on July 7, 2011. (Canadian Yachting Association)
Once the parties receive the Court of Appeal's written ruling, they will have 60 days to decide whether they will ask the Supreme Court of intervene.

Prosecutors could also choose not to pursue a new trial.

The body of Richard Oland, 69, was discovered lying face down in a pool of blood in his Saint John investment firm office on July 7, 2011. He had suffered 45 blows to his head, neck and hands. No weapon was ever found.

His son, Dennis Oland, who was the last known person to see him alive during a meeting at his office the night before, was found guilty by a jury on Dec. 19, 2015.

'Misdirection' to jury over jacket

A three justice panel of the Court of Appeal ruled the conviction must be quashed "on the grounds of misdirection in the [trial] judge's instructions with respect to post-offence conduct evidence, specifically [Oland's] false statement to the police regarding the jacket he was wearing at the material times."

Oland told police he was wearing a navy blazer when he went to visit his father at his office, but video surveillance showed he was wearing a brown sports jacket, later found to have four small bloodstains on it and DNA matching his father's profile.

"The trial judge told the jurors the issue was whether the appellant's inaccurate description of the jacket was an honest mistake or an 'intentional lie' that was related to the commission of the offence charged," said Court of Appeal Chief Justice Ernest Drapeau, who delivered the oral decision on behalf of the panel on Oct. 24.

"Significantly, the trial judge did not instruct the jurors that, even if they found the appellant's erroneous statement was a lie, it had no probative value unless they concluded, on the basis of other evidence independent of that finding, that the lie was fabricated or concocted to conceal his involvement in the murder of his father," Drapeau said.

Oland was released from prison under several conditions on Oct. 25, pending his new trial. The Court of Appeal ruled his presumption of innocence has been restored now that his conviction has been overturned.

Oland, whose extended family has stood by him from the beginning, must keep the peace and be of good behaviour, reside at his home in Rothesay, advise police of any change of address and of any travel outside the province.

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